A Truly Epic Challenge

Monday, July 1, 2013


Illustration by Fernanda Suarez

I check the messageboards with considerable frequency, even when I'm working on the considerable number of scenarios and other amazing adventures to debut at PaizoCon and Gen Con. What I see is that many people enjoy the challenge that Season 4 presents with some finding it a little tough and a minority claiming that it still isn't hard enough. Balancing encounters to present a respectable challenge without being unbeatable for a typical group is always on my mind as I outline, assign, and develop scenarios, but I can respect that there are players out there who want to face ever-stronger foes.

Imagine my delight, then, when I began developing Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–26: The Waking Rune! Here we have an epic finale to the Year of the Risen Rune, and the premise practically begs an almost impossibly difficult encounter, right? Well, I resisted that urge.

Somewhat.

Instead, I have built in an optional feature for this scenario as a tip of the hat to the diehard challenge-seekers. Season 4 introduced the six-player assumption with rules for scaling down encounters for tables of 4 PCs. The Waking Rune also includes rules for scaling up the encounters for added difficulty. This is an experiment and is intended only to enable a table to legally play on "hard mode" if everyone involved explicitly agrees to take on a tougher challenge. Doing the harder version does not grant better gold, XP, or Fame; it's just for bragging rights. You have been warned.

I trust that we'll all be good gaming citizens by not pressuring others into taking on this added challenge unless they really want it. Adding notes on scaling up encounters is something I'm willing to explore in future scenarios, but it depends on hearing feedback.

Allow me to make a polite request regarding the scenarios to be released in a few days. Excited as I am to hear what people think about these scenarios, be considerate in using spoiler tags on the messageboards and discretion in person. Many of the scenarios have big reveals that I imagine would be all the more exciting to discover during the adventure and not beforehand.

Happy adventuring!

John Compton
Developer

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Tags: Fernanda Suarez Pathfinder Society Pathfinder Society Scenarios
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11 people marked this as a favorite.

Let's just hope some GMs don't decide to be mean and scale it up without everyone's permission.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Heh. Heheheh. Haha.
Haaahaha...
BWAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

Oh man, I can't wait for the threads to get going; this is gonna be great!

Calling it now:

No peeking til later!:
I anticipate at least one or two people who were vehemently against the proposed new playing up wealth rules but claimed they were mostly after the challenge rather than the gold are going to find reasons to be VERY against this new idea.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I personally would love to see options for scaling up adventures.

I doubt it would be a popular option for other players in my area.

Silver Crusade

Conceptually, I approve. We'll see how good the execution is. I do hope they try it on a few more scenarios before making a final decision on doing this all the time, just in case the one scenario's execution isn't perfect.

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:

Heh. Heheheh. Haha.

Haaahaha...
BWAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

Oh man, I can't wait for the threads to get going; this is gonna be great!

Calling it now:
** spoiler omitted **

As to yer spoiler, I think you are correct.

I also anticipate the inevitable threads.

Contributor

Now, just add a ladder system and things will go crazy.

4 star GM will tele-Baal!

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Excellent idea, John. I hope to see it bear fruit.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Please please please add a "gold star" or some other useless token to the chronicle sheet for those opting for completing this on hard mode. Later on, PFS leadership can create a boon to give some value for a character with multiple such tokens.

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TwoWolves wrote:
Please please please add a "gold star" or some other useless token to the chronicle sheet for those opting for completing this on hard mode. Later on, PFS leadership can create a boon to give some value for a character with multiple such tokens.

I like this idea. I hope they do something to recognize the folks who choose to play up.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

I approve heartily of this change, in no small part due to the fact that one of the groups for which I GM regularly stomps encounters without a second thought, while the other barely struggles to make it. I look forward to running the extra encounter for one and skipping it for the other.

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

5 people marked this as a favorite.
TwoWolves wrote:
Please please please add a "gold star" or some other useless token to the chronicle sheet for those opting for completing this on hard mode. Later on, PFS leadership can create a boon to give some value for a character with multiple such tokens.

Please don't.

I think the purpose of this is to answer the 'I play up for the challenge' people who actually play up for the wealth. Our resident Optimizers, for example I actually would expect to 'play up'.*

To offer tokens/rewards/chipmunks for taking hard mode, simply perpetuates the problem.

*

Spoiler:
Yes guys, if you're lurking, I'm calling you out :P I'll even run it. ;-)


Thanks John I like this idea!

For special events like season conclusions it should feel like a mighty chalange marginaly overcome. I am not sure if this concept should be applyed all the time but for the big special things I like the concept.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In regards to the gold star thing, just ask your GM to note on your chronicle that you completed it - the whole purpose of this is that there is no in-game benefit.

Silver Crusade 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Bruno grapple hard mode.

Hopefully.

5/5

Bruno Breakbone wrote:

Bruno grapple hard mode.

Hopefully.

Bruno probably also be at big penalty for accepting the boons from previous parts, make hard mode ultra hard!

Grand Lodge 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Bruno Breakbone wrote:

Bruno grapple hard mode.

Hopefully.

Bruno probably also be at big penalty for accepting the boons from previous parts, make hard mode ultra hard!

Ah, troll crap. Bruno, you're going to get us both killed, aren't you?

2/5

One thing we hear time and time again from developers of scenarios is that they were "limited by word-count" and so it seems that many times it adversely affected the quality (i.e. things get left out that would make the scenario run better as a whole).

So my question is, how much does this added "tough mode" modification eat into the word-count? The Four player adjustments already eat into word count somewhat- I don't know if I would approve of this "hard mode" on top of that if it detracts from word-count better spent on the scenario itself.

I am also a bit worried that trying to accommodate too many levels of play will cause issues later on... what issues, I don't know... just a gut feeling I have.

Shadow Lodge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

I approve of this added "Kyle mode" option.

The Exchange

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Can I just forgo playing and get a kick in the nuts? I'm in kind of a hurry. ;-)

5/5

Whiskey Jack wrote:

One thing we hear time and time again from developers of scenarios is that they were "limited by word-count" and so it seems that many times it adversely affected the quality (i.e. things get left out that would make the scenario run better as a whole).

So my question is, how much does this added "tough mode" modification eat into the word-count? The Four player adjustments already eat into word count somewhat- I don't know if I would approve of this "hard mode" on top of that if it detracts from word-count better spent on the scenario itself.

I am also a bit worried that trying to accommodate too many levels of play will cause issues later on... what issues, I don't know... just a gut feeling I have.

I think what John is saying is that he, as the developer, spent extra time and tender loving care on this one to make a mega-hard mode so it could be a truly epic Season Finale, above and beyond the wordcount they gave to Tim to write an awesome finale (my completely speculative guess is that Krune is in the scenario and is normally exhausted or sickened or staggered or missing half his spells like from a raise, more than one of those, or something similar, and then in hard mode of 10-11, he gets all that removed, thus using very few words by just telling the GM "Remove the staggered, sickened, and exhausted condition from Runelord Krune" or for added evulz "Add in a Pit Fiend/Balor/Iathavos/GM's Choice CR 20 Outsider that he gated in with the gate spell before the PCs arrived").


Obviously have yet to see the scenario at all, and I already LOVE this idea. John, please keep this up as your development time allows!!!

Maybe see if you can add a checkbox in the reporting site to track how often it is used?

2/5

@Rogue Eidolon - I was addressing my concerns more in a general way if such a "play up hard mode" becomes standard. I wasn't speculating on this scenario in particular and wasn't implying that John did a shoddy job.

If the "hard mode" text is not that involved (as in your example), then it may not be such a big deal.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

I'm looking forward to playing/GMing this and hopefully future scenarios with "HM" options.

I just hope that those PCs who so greedily took evil boons throughout S4 are appropriately addressed ;)

4/5

4 people marked this as a favorite.
CRobledo wrote:

Obviously have yet to see the scenario at all, and I already LOVE this idea. John, please keep this up as your development time allows!!!

Maybe see if you can add a checkbox in the reporting site to track how often it is used?

They already do:

Quote:

Character Died☑

Character Died☑

Character Died☑

Character Died☑

Character Died☑

Character Died☑

Silver Crusade 4/5

10 people marked this as a favorite.

@Rogue Eidolon

Bruno categorically deny use of performance-enhancing boons.

Bruno will now read prepared statement. Bruno not taking questions at this time.

"These are the very same charges the Silver Crusade chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. The Decemverite's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.

Bruno never accept tainted boons, and, unlike many of my accusers, Bruno have competed as a handsome and beautiful tetori for many years with no spike in performance and passed more than 500 character audits and never failed one. That the Decemverite ignores this fundamental distinction and charges Bruno instead of the admitted tainted-booners says far more about the Decemverite, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me."

Thank you.

Silver Crusade

Wander... wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Bruno Breakbone wrote:

Bruno grapple hard mode.

Hopefully.

Bruno probably also be at big penalty for accepting the boons from previous parts, make hard mode ultra hard!
Ah, troll crap. Bruno, you're going to get us both killed, aren't you?

All of a sudden, I'm glad I don't have a character at level 10 or 11 that I could play at that table with you two. Maybe I should volunteer to be the GM for this one... *cackle*

4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Bruno Breakbone wrote:

@Rogue Eidolon

Bruno categorically deny use of performance-enhancing boons.

Bruno will now read prepared statement. Bruno not taking questions at this time.

"These are the very same charges the Silver Crusade chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. The Decemverite's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.

Bruno never accept tainted boons, and, unlike many of my accusers, Bruno have competed as a handsome and beautiful tetori for many years with no spike in performance and passed more than 500 character audits and never failed one. That the Decemverite ignores this fundamental distinction and charges Bruno instead of the admitted tainted-booners says far more about the Decemverite, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me."

Thank you.

I'll give you this, Bruno. You've got a lot of ball.

5/5

Bruno Breakbone wrote:

@Rogue Eidolon

Bruno categorically deny use of performance-enhancing boons.

Bruno will now read prepared statement. Bruno not taking questions at this time.

"These are the very same charges the Silver Crusade chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. The Decemverite's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.

Bruno never accept tainted boons, and, unlike many of my accusers, Bruno have competed as a handsome and beautiful tetori for many years with no spike in performance and passed more than 500 character audits and never failed one. That the Decemverite ignores this fundamental distinction and charges Bruno instead of the admitted tainted-booners says far more about the Decemverite, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me."

Thank you.

Mr. Bruno! Mr. Bruno! Rogue Eidolon here from the Absalom Daily Forum News. How do you respond to testimony from Silver Crusade paladins, verified by Abadar's truthtelling and also by the fact that the paladins did not fall for lying, that you admitted the following in a recent public statement: "Bruno once handsome and strong Tetori monk. Then Bruno found shelter in the Refuge of Time, tasted the sweet Cultist's Kiss and heard the Word of the Ancients."


The boon to make gold stars "worth" something doesn't have to be anything more than a title or guild membership, perhaps even a title on the message boards next to a user's name. I was not looking for another "Treasure Map" monitary reward boon. People who want the challenge of playing on "hard mode" also want recognition for doing so. Bragging rights/rank is a nice way of putting a cherry on top of a hard-won accomplishment.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

Whiskey Jack wrote:

One thing we hear time and time again from developers of scenarios is that they were "limited by word-count" and so it seems that many times it adversely affected the quality (i.e. things get left out that would make the scenario run better as a whole).

So my question is, how much does this added "tough mode" modification eat into the word-count? The Four player adjustments already eat into word count somewhat- I don't know if I would approve of this "hard mode" on top of that if it detracts from word-count better spent on the scenario itself.

I am also a bit worried that trying to accommodate too many levels of play will cause issues later on... what issues, I don't know... just a gut feeling I have.

I can understand this concern. Rogue Eidolon certainly hit on the reason I made this decision for #4–26, and I'll certainly use that as a starting point for any "hard mode" options in the future (incorporating feedback as appropriate).

Excluding a short sidebar that explains what "hard mode" is at the beginning of the scenario, the adjustment notes for scaling up take approximately the same amount of word count as do the notes for scaling down an encounter for 4 players. I don't see the minimal addition detracting from the overall storytelling space.

The Exchange 5/5

I worry a little about this...
I am glad you stated the following:
"I trust that we'll all be good gaming citizens by not pressuring others into taking on this added challenge unless they really want it.

Now... I worry about the last 5 words. I wonder how long until we hear at some table - "...you want to play at hard mode, you know you do! Don't be a &*(^%$!"

Lantern Lodge

I think this is awesome news. Used responsibly, it will add that little extra "umph" to encounters for those groups that desire such things.

The boons given on chronicle sheets are already too much "extra" when added up, so I personally am not in favor of a gold star system to be cashed in later.

I am in favor of a special designation being placed on hard mode available chronicle sheets for bragging rights, however.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Wander... wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Bruno Breakbone wrote:

Bruno grapple hard mode.

Hopefully.

Bruno probably also be at big penalty for accepting the boons from previous parts, make hard mode ultra hard!
Ah, troll crap. Bruno, you're going to get us both killed, aren't you?

You two only think you go hard Mode, but I'm the only one of us who's actually spent all his prestige so I can't be rezzed.

Shadow Lodge

nosig wrote:

I worry a little about this...

I am glad you stated the following:
"I trust that we'll all be good gaming citizens by not pressuring others into taking on this added challenge unless they really want it.

Now... I worry about the last 5 words. I wonder how long until we hear at some table - "...you want to play at hard mode, you know you do! Don't be a &*(^%$!"

You know, I hear a lot about bullying at tables, and I can't help but wonder exactly where this is happening, because I've never seen it. If someone says to you, "YOU WANT TO DO THIS" you say "lol nope" and then move on with your life. This is a social game, played by human beings. It is unreasonable and impossible to expect that all typical human behavior--and people being pushy is typical human behavior--be avoided at all times. There has to fall some responsibility on the people who don't want to play up/play hard mode/whatever to simply say, "Oi, no thank you, and piss off."

2/5

nosig wrote:

I worry a little about this...

I am glad you stated the following:
"I trust that we'll all be good gaming citizens by not pressuring others into taking on this added challenge unless they really want it.

Now... I worry about the last 5 words. I wonder how long until we hear at some table - "...you want to play at hard mode, you know you do! Don't be a &*(^%$!"

This reminds me of True Dungeon where you can elect to play at "hard mode" level (aka Nightmare level). Normally, everyone at the table has to agree to play up to hard mode... one year, our usual group was completed by two fellows from New Zealand (who were really great btw). My friend Joe coerced them into agreeing to hard mode in a very sneaky way...

Joe: "So you guys want to play up to Nightmare mode?"
Kiwi1: "Um, this is our first time doing this..."
Kiwi2: "We traveled a long way and don't want to buy it in the first room of the dungeon..."
Joe: "Hold on, I thought you Kiwi guys were supposed to be *tough*!?"
Both Kiwis (fiercely): "Is there anything tougher than Nightmare?!?"

In the end, we did Nightmare and everyone lived... but who knows how jovial they would have been if they *had* bought it in room one?

The Exchange 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Will there be a hard mode at each tier?

Grand Lodge

As scared as I am, there is no way I am taking this on in normal mode.
I hope y'all is ready for repeated castings of Wail of the Banshee.
*gulps*

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

pathar wrote:
nosig wrote:

I worry a little about this...

I am glad you stated the following:
"I trust that we'll all be good gaming citizens by not pressuring others into taking on this added challenge unless they really want it.

Now... I worry about the last 5 words. I wonder how long until we hear at some table - "...you want to play at hard mode, you know you do! Don't be a &*(^%$!"

You know, I hear a lot about bullying at tables, and I can't help but wonder exactly where this is happening, because I've never seen it. If someone says to you, "YOU WANT TO DO THIS" you say "lol nope" and then move on with your life. This is a social game, played by human beings. It is unreasonable and impossible to expect that all typical human behavior--and people being pushy is typical human behavior--be avoided at all times. There has to fall some responsibility on the people who don't want to play up/play hard mode/whatever to simply say, "Oi, no thank you, and piss off."

I think the term "bullying" paints the wrong picture, at least in my experience. It's usually not someone rolling up their sleeves and growling at you until you comply. It's usually more of a subtle peer pressure (maybe a sense of instantly fitting in by playing up, or feeling like "the guy who made everyone else have less fun").

So, less like "bullying" and more like "manipulating".

5/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Sydney aka lastblacknight

Sounds like fun *cracks knuckles*

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

Zandari wrote:
Will there be a hard mode at each tier?

Yes, the notes for scaling up apply to both Subtiers.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

*I* for one, welcome our new Epic Challenge Overlords, and say, to them. "Hail the great SLURM LORDS". Now please punish me, and quickly. >.>

Silver Crusade

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
*I* for one, welcome our new Epic Challenge Overlords, and say, to them. "Hail the great SLURM LORDS". Now please punish me, and quickly. >.>

You're welcome at my table in Kalamazoo when I guinea pig my local players before my 4 runs of it at Gencon, or just find me at Gencon. Happy Hunting.

Silver Crusade

This is great. My schedule has (sadly! so sadly!) moved me away from PFS recently, but I might have to come back for this one.

Bring it on!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

You just know that there will be a group of 4 PCs that will play this scenario using the minimum legal level then proceed to play as if they were a full 6 player party - and they'll all agree to scale up as well.

We can call it the Platinum Pathfinder Challenge.

Liberty's Edge

Not for me I dont think.

Dark Archive

Daniel Luckett wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
*I* for one, welcome our new Epic Challenge Overlords, and say, to them. "Hail the great SLURM LORDS". Now please punish me, and quickly. >.>
You're welcome at my table in Kalamazoo when I guinea pig my local players before my 4 runs of it at Gencon, or just find me at Gencon. Happy Hunting.

I've got my tickets for Gen Con, it'll be the last hurrah of my Sorcerer before he hits 12th level, and thus starts his treck toward becoming a VC, and his dream of making Paracountess Zarta his wife. >.>

A MAN CAN DREAM.

Grand Lodge

Very nice idea! I can't wait to see how many of my groups actually "Play up...up!"


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Daniel Luckett wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
*I* for one, welcome our new Epic Challenge Overlords, and say, to them. "Hail the great SLURM LORDS". Now please punish me, and quickly. >.>
You're welcome at my table in Kalamazoo when I guinea pig my local players before my 4 runs of it at Gencon, or just find me at Gencon. Happy Hunting.

For the record, Dan, my vote is for hard mode when we do play. Go big or go home.

Silver Crusade

Matthew Morris wrote:
TwoWolves wrote:
Please please please add a "gold star" or some other useless token to the chronicle sheet for those opting for completing this on hard mode. Later on, PFS leadership can create a boon to give some value for a character with multiple such tokens.

Please don't.

I think the purpose of this is to answer the 'I play up for the challenge' people who actually play up for the wealth. Our resident Optimizers, for example I actually would expect to 'play up'.*

To offer tokens/rewards/chipmunks for taking hard mode, simply perpetuates the problem.

*** spoiler omitted **

What about banana stickers instead?

Sczarni 2/5

If I had a regular group of tactically minded individuals who worked together like a well-oiled machine and whose PCs were designed to work in conjunction then I would try this. But with the random hodge-podge you usually get at conventions and game days, no way.

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